By Simoniah Mashangoane

Jabari Development Agency (Jabari) is a startup in the organisational development field with a special focus on community based organisations (CBOs). Getting the basics right for our own organisation is fundamental. As a team that understands the sector and the developmental needs and challenges for the organisations in the CBO sector, Jabari has as advantage. As individuals with experience, skills and expertise in the sector, we came with general assumptions and hypotheses that needed to be tested in an entrepreneurial minefield. We are still testing those assumptions and hypotheses.

We have ideated, conceptualized and validated our product. We have also committed both to the idea and to the organisation. These processed we all perfected with the assistance of the JamLam Accelerator program. So what’s next for Jabari? We are still a start-up and will be for the foreseeable future. We are now moving into the next phase of our entrepreneurial journey, scaling and establishing.

Great strides have been gained during our startup journey, including gaining a broader perspective on entrepreneurship. Our scanning of the environment had been based on our experiences during our exposure through our work. Through Jamlab we had to do a deeper scanning of the same environment to validate an opportunity for our business. Even in moments where an over analysis of our own ideas and products led to certain doubts we had a strong mentor that reminded us of why we had that idea in the first place. And upon further reflection we realized that our core mission and objectives remain strong.

The first challenge was building a profitable business model around our idea. Again a mentor with a sense of commitment and professional investment in our success is consistently working with us to perfect our business model.

Another key challenge in our entrepreneurial journey is the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The country going into lockdown just a few months into our start-up journey forced us to delay our progress as well. While we do live in a time where working remotely is possible and certainly ideal during a pandemic — our initial stakeholder engagements could ideally works best in person. Building relations in our type of business behind a mask or via tele/video conference is a challenge we are yet to overcome.

The third and possibly most significant challenge is making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. Our experience of our environment, including our target market, has been as an employee. Approaching the same environment as an entrepreneur added an extra layer of accountability, while success has always been important, it is now non-negotiable. Accountability has no time and bureaucratic constraints; it rests on our shoulders as the founders.

Lastly managing internal and external expectations- running a start-up with while maintaining full-time jobs and young families is difficult. There are internal and external expectations on time, progress, etc. Keeping those expectations in check is team effort at Jabari, we do this to avoid burning-out.

After almost a year we know that we have barely begun our entrepreneurial journey. However we are confident that we will overcome these challenges. We started this journey because we see that the community based organisation sector needs a shift. We also know that the changes we want to see happening in sector cannot happen unless those of us with the means, ideas and opportunity to make some of those changes happen start doing so. We are confident in our future success because we believe in our concept. Our entrepreneurial journey has never been about us as the founders; it is about the one thing that has been the driver behind our careers and studies, development.

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